Social Reproduction Theory interrogates the very boundary drawn between reproductive and productive labor in order to reveal the structural reliance of the supposedly free market on both unwaged and waged reproductive work. Traditionally, Marxist theory has been focused on the various forms in which labor-power is exploited through the extraction of surplus value, all in the interest of capital accumulation. Social Reproduction Theory shifts that focus to both the macro and micro levels at which labor power itself, which is to say the workforce, is reproduced. This reproduction includes the literal making and sustaining of human life, but also includes other ‘life-making processes’ (to use Tithi Bhattacharya’s term) of reproduction such as the emotional labor of sexual relationships, the labor that goes into cooking and feeding, and education and healthcare, to name just a few. Rooted in a historical materialist perspective, these scholars and activisits take up not only an analysis of what reproductive labor is and how it functions, but the historically specific ways in which this labor is mediated through processes of racialization, hierarchical gender differentiation, sexualization, and imperialism.
Tithi Bhattacharya, “What is Social Reproduction Theory?”
The Marxist Feminist Collective, “On Social Reproduction and the Covid-19 Pandemic”
Feminisms & Degrowth Alliance, [collective of ~40 internatonal and interdisciplinary scholars], “Feminist Degrowth Reflections on COVID-19 and the Politics of Social Reproduction”
Aaron Jaffe, “Social Reproduction Theory in and Beyond the Pandemic”